I am not at all skeptical of the OP's mom's claims.
I remember back in 1973 one of the speakers at a circuit assembly said " Brothers there are only 23 months left before Armageddon".
I can perfectly imagine a speaker claiming the preaching is over. My assemblies were full of speakers jumping the gun. So was my kh. The mentality is that there is always the next big secret and everyone scrambles to be the one "in the know"--in some cases, even guessing.
They know the wts has been winding them up for some time now with the next big secret. The layoff at Bethel is big news and they've provided little explanation. I think the rank and file is chomping at the bit trying to put the pieces together; they've been encouraged to do that time and again. They probably think the laid off Bethelites will be appointed elders so they have enough warm bodies to call on the "inactives".
That's not to say the wts is actually going to come out and claim the preaching work is officially over and that is a sign that the big a is imminent, but they are good at innuendo.